Electric Stove

I’m looking to make the jump from extract to all grain brewing within the next month or so. My only concern is that I only have access to an electric stove. Since I’m already investing in a lot of new equipment and am in college I’m trying not to purchase an outdoor propane gas burner as well. I’ve also been looking at BIAB as second option. Should I avoid this venture?

How big of a batch do you intend to make?

Electric stoves have limitations. There are many other ways, but this way is limited.

Edit: To also say good on you for doing your all-grain homework. It’s really the part I love most, the mash. You won’t regret trying your hand at this.

I’d like to stick with 5 gallon batches like i’ve done with my extracts. and thank you!

You would need to collect enough so that your post boil volume will be 5 gallons of beer. So if you boil off a gallon an hour, you start with 6 (you will need to learn your system to get good at this, it takes a few tries) to get to 5. 6 gallons is a lot to get a boil from a standard 220 electric stove (someone good at math can probably do the math to prove it). Your circumstances may not be perfect, it’s just that it’s hard to get your standard electric stove to get results at the volume you are looking for.

I’m not sure how this would compare to your electric stove, but it’s at least a data point to consider:

I had trouble with my propane burner once. It was already at a boil. I had to switch to a 1500w hot plate (with a diffuser) while I worked on the burner. By the time I had the burner repaired, the wort on the hot plate was still not back to a boil (about 30 minutes). It was a 5 gallon batch.

I’ve done a lot of cooking with that hot plate. It takes a good 15 minutes to get nice and hot. So take the above with a grain of salt. But if I ever go electric, I think I’d want to have two elements at 2500w each & run both to get to a boil, then use just one to keep it there.

I don’t know what kind of power a typical consumer stove provides. But I would think you could get to a boil … it just might take a lot of time.

Maybe you could ask friends and family if they have burner they can loan you while you save up for one.

As previously stated its all about batch size. To make 5 gallons I usually need 7+ gallons of wort. If you check out a mash calculator you can kind of get an idea. I use the two 10gallon igloo coolers as Hot Liquor Tank and Mash Tun. I get about half a gallon of loss from the mash tun, my real losses seem to come from Trub left in the kettle after the boil. As well as from evaporation.

I had a hard time getting enough water heated on my stove, so it was a trade off between AG batch size and extract.

I bought a propane burner and I am petty satisfied I did! Getting water to a boil happens much faster. I can control boil temp a lot easier. No worries of is this boil vigorous enough. Overall I would give outdoor brewing a big thumbs up. There’s two more considerations. How are you going to cool the brew down to fermentation temps after the boil? Wort chiller connected to the hose is my solution. But most importantly, after cooling can you protect the beer from the elements. I’m fortunate to have a garage.

Also you mention electric stove but not if it’s a coil top or ceramic top. I can tell you with a ceramic top you will never be able to get a full BIAB for a 5 gallon boiling. It’s was hard enough for me to get the 2.5 gallons from an extract to a boil, could only imagine how long it would take to get my 7-8 gallons BIAB to the same boil.

Sometimes I’ll use my electric stove to heat mash water, depending on the size. It takes a LONG time, even when I am only heating like 4 gallons. And that’s not even bringing it to a boil. When it was really cold and I was doing most of my brewing indoors (except the wort boil), I’d heat my mash and sparge water on my electric stove. It was a long process, but doable. The 7 or so gallons of wort had to be boiled outside on my propane burner though or else my brew day would be way too long.

I won’t say what you’re doing is impossible, but expect to be spending a LOT of time on this. I mean you could always test it out. Take about 7 gallons of water in your pot and try to boil it. See about how long it takes.

It’s the power that matters. I have an electric “hotplate” I rigged up - has an 8" 2.3kW (230V) element I bought on ebay for $15 - inserted into a cooking pot - I couldn’t find a hotplate with this much power. Your stove manual may have the power of the various burners listed. While I’m sure the high power gas burners will run circles around this, it does get an 11qt charge of water (for a 5gal batch, 8.5# malts) to mash-in temperature (158F) in a short time. And It heats 3.5gal sparge water to 170F in a reasonable time - I heat it during the end of the mash period. I try to sparge as efficiently as possible, collecting no more than 6 gal (that’s limited by the mash and sparge volumes…) so that I can get to 4.5gal in a 90min boil; to effectively isomerize the bittering AAs the wort should be at a good rolling boil , but the only requirement for evaporation is if you have collected an excess volume, so I do much of the boil partially (~3/4) covered and it stays at a nice rolling boil at 25% power setting and still loses over a gallon in the 90 min. I actually reduce to about 4.5 gal to allow for sparging the hops with a couple of quarts of water; I use homegrown hops, loose in the wort during the boil, and filter them from the chilled wort with a 150um mesh nylon bag, then sparge the hops to get to final volume. My beer turns out very good I think, so it certainly can be done if you have a stove element of about 2.3kW power.

FWIW, I built the electric setup because I have solar PV panels and we have excess electricity available, whereas propane is expensive here and a fossil fuel.